With passenger traffic in a slump, airlines are turning to freight


Nairobi, Feb 12 (AFP/APP): With passenger traffic in a slump, airlines are turning to freight to fill the gap — and Kenya Airways spies an advantage in the market to deliver temperature-sensitive Covid vaccines: its expertise in flying fresh roses to Europe.

Some 3,000 tonnes of flowers are currently exported every week from Nairobi’s international airport under demanding cool-storage conditions akin to those required to safely ship Covid vaccines.

Jabs earmarked for Africa risk spoilage if not transported within precise temperature ranges from ground handling to shipment and delivery — a logistical feat beyond many infrastructure-poor countries on the continent.

“That is the range we manage our fresh flowers, so it’s very common and well known in our temperature control mechanisms,” Peter Musola, Kenya Airways’ general manager of cargo, told in an interview this week. “Around fresh, cool-chain management, I will tell you Nairobi is way ahead of so many countries.”

The airline serves the major air hubs in Africa, has long-established routes to Europe and on Friday introduced a flight to Delhi, with an eye on business to ship Covishield, the Indian-made Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

It has converted passenger planes to cargo freighters and opened a pharmaceutical storage facility capable of storing tonnes of vaccines, as it courts the big business of bringing vaccines to more than a billion Africans.

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